Covid-19: Labour Unions sign pact with Employers Consultative Association

By Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

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Labour Unions and the Employers Consultative Association move to save jobs in Nigeria

The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria TUC and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association NECA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to protect jobs across the country.

At the event in Abuja on Monday, the NLC and the TUC called on the government to take deliberate steps in saving jobs in this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the President of the NLC Ayuba Wabba, nothing has in recent times threatened the interest and aspirations of both employers of labour and workers like the novel Coronavirus disease.

“Unfortunately, the disease had successfully put the entire global socio-economic system on almost complete lockdown for the past three months. The impact on businesses, workers and livelihood has been monumental.

“According to a report released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in March 2020, 25 million people globally were expected to lose their jobs to the pandemic. I am sure that figure was based on early assessment of the Covid-19 situation,” Wabba said.

He said that the MoU identified critical areas of mutual needs, collaboration and efforts that would enable the social partners to address the fallout of Covid-19 in the country.

For organised labour, the President said the major concerns included job security, rights at work, social protection and occupational health and safety for all workers in the face of the pandemic.

Wabba stated that thousands of workers especially the frontline workers had fallen victims to the Covid-19 infection.

He then appealed to the government and private sector employers to provide adequate protective and preventive facilities at the workplace.

“These are dire times. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on health and business is humungous.

“The urgency of the situation at hand informed the resolve of social partners in Nigeria – Employers’ and Workers’ Organisations to work together on developing a shared perspective and resolve aimed at mitigating the storms ahead.

“It is gratifying that this MoU has successfully identified critical areas of mutual needs, collaboration and efforts that would enable the social partners address the fallout of Covid-19 in our country.

“The overarching aim is to promote the health of Nigerians, boost productivity, protect jobs and preserve the means of livelihood for millions of Nigerians.

“While we continue to call on government and private sector employers to provide adequate protective and preventive facilities at the workplace, we will use the framework of this MoU to ensure that workers who fall ill are supported through paid sick leave to recover and be reinstated safely to their positions at work. We will also defend existing social protection nets such as pension and gratuity,” the NLC President explained.

The Nigeria Labour Congress also promised to continue to work with NECA to put pressure on government to provide businesses with palliatives, grants and fiscal support incentives including downward review of tax and interest rates, to give businesses the breathing space to maintain production at pre-Covid-19 level and be able to keep jobs and income.

Social dialogue
Wabba promised that labour would work with employers in the private sector through the social dialogue process to prevent further loss of jobs in Nigeria, uphold pristine occupation health and safety standards as well as ensure the promotion of enterprise competitiveness, decent jobs, employment creation and the economic prosperity of Nigeria.

“Given the broad nature of the challenges thrown up by Covid-19, we will continue to support government to safeguard the health of all Nigerians since it is only a healthy population that can guarantee a healthy workforce and in turn the best returns on productivity”, he said.

The President, trade Union Congress TUC, Mr Quadri Olaleye, said that the pandemic had threatened the health and safety of millions of people globally and had put immense pressure on jobs, business and livelihood of Nigerians.

According to him, “these are dire times and there is need for government to ensure job security in the country.
“The Nigerian Government must make job creation a priority as a solution to ensuring peace in the country as well as a tool for addressing youth restiveness,” 
the TUC President said.

For the Employers Association, NECA,  the MoU is to ensure a sustainable post-Covid-19 economy and job security for the mutual benefit of all.
Its President, Timothy Olawale, represented by Mrs Adenike Ajala, Deputy Director, Abuja Corporate Office, said;  “We pledge to continue to adhere to the principles of social dialogue in decision making at enterprise level.
“We will also work together in collaboration with government and organised labour to develop initiatives aimed at boosting economic activities and protection of occupational safety and health of workers.

“While we acknowledge the role of government in addressing the crisis, we urge our political leaders to sustain their efforts in prioritising the well being and welfare of citizenry, especially the most vulnerable in the country”, Olawole said.

Target sectors
Some of the identified target sectors, according to the MoU, include the Aviation, Hospitality, Tourism, Manufacturing, Transportation etc.

Other agreements contained in the MoU are; ‘to initiate joint reflections, accompanied by proposals on strategies for creating and developing employment in Nigeria for onward presentation to the government, social partners to be committed to promoting occupational health and safety at work and to consult among themselves before taking any measure to prevent loss of jobs in the private sector,’ among others.

The MoU was signed by the Presidents of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Quadri Olaleye, and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association NECA, Mr Timothy Olawole.

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere